CD Review of Uninvited, Like the Clouds by The Church

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Uninvited, Like the Clouds
starstarhalf starno starno star Label: Cooking Vinyl
Released: 2006
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The Church, an Australian band that has been around since the early ‘80s and had a huge MTV alterna-smash with “Under the Milky Way,” has been kicking it under the radar for the last 18 years or so. Now they are back with Uninvited, Like the Clouds, the band’s sixteenth (or so) release. But does anyone outside of Australia realize that the Church has been making music all this time? Regardless, led by the smooth signature vocal of Steve Kilbey, the Church sound today like they sounded twenty years ago – a good thing if you are a fan of longevity, but a bad thing if you’re trying to improve upon past efforts.

Uninvited, Like the Clouds is a lot like 1988’s Starfish, but with more emphasis on weirdness and less emphasis on songcraft. The album starts out with “Block,” a six-minutes-plus snoozer that makes you wonder how the song landed on the album, let alone how it got put first. Luckily for the Church, in the age of digital music, fans can just skip to the next song. “Unified Field” is hooky, with some cool effects and breezy harmonies, and “Space Needle” is haunting yet pulls you in – like that electric fence you know you shouldn’t touch but just can’t help yourself. “Easy” is an upbeat, somewhat catchy track, but the remaining seven tracks are less melodic and more experimental. In other words, listening to the second half of this record is like watching molasses pour from a jar.

The Church may have invented the term “lo-fi” without realizing it, or certainly before it became in vogue to use it. Their music is soothing, haunting, boring, and at times strangely uplifting - definitely not the kind of stuff you need to crank the volume up on to get a feel for. Fans of the early days are going to find something to like on Uninvited, Like the Clouds. But if you’re looking for something exciting, new, or groundbreaking, don’t start with this record.

~Mike Farley